Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 3/9/12

Six days ago, an article on this site stated that the Capitals’ inconsistency was likely to doom their chances to make the playoffs.  Since that article was posted, Washington has compiled a record of 1-2-1 during the last four games of a five game home stand.  Somehow, magically, as other teams have faltered as well, the Caps find themselves in the final playoff spot of the Eastern Conference — tied with Winnipeg with 72 points, but having a game in hand.  Meanwhile in the Southeast Division race, Washington is two points behind Florida, although the Panthers have a game in hand over the Capitals.

So, it’s not beyond reason that many Capitals fans may wonder why this writer is so negative about the Caps chances.  Let’s lay out a few points to consider:

  • The Capitals are 4-5-1 over their last ten games and have averaged just two goals per game over that period — and were shut out three times.
  • Washington has just fifteen games remaining, nine of which are on the road.  With a season record outside of Verizon Center of 11-18-3, it’s clear that the remaining four weeks of the regular season will truly be an uphill battle.
  • Four of the fifteen remaining games are against teams who have at least ten more points in the standings than the Caps.
  • Washington’s power play has been non-existent for the past ten games — a single goal in 25 power play opportunities.  Not only are the Caps unable to score with a man advantage, but they have given up nine shorthanded goals this year — third worst in the NHL.
  • The Capitals’ discipline has broken down.  At one time in the first third of the season, Washington was one of the top teams in the league in terms of fewest penalty minutes per game.  The Caps now rank 24 of 30.
  • And, in late breaking news, after waiting so long for the return of all-star defenseman Mike Green, Washington will again find themselves without his smooth skating and deft puck handling on their end of the rink — the NHL just announced a three game suspension for a hit to the head of Tampa Bay’s Brett Connolly last night.  This may well turn out to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

While nothing would be sweeter than Washington riding a solid winning streak into the playoffs, based on their recent performance, that’s unlikely.  We can only hope that they ‘wake up’ and start to play tough, gritty hockey for a full 60 minutes for the remainder of the season.  That’s exactly what’s required as the regular season winds to a close.

Let’s Go Caps!

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